December 27, 2007

The percentage of randomly selected retailers in Multnomah County selling alcohol to minors has increased slightly from the previous two decoy operations carried out this year.

Of the 76 stores, restaurants, and bars visited on December 12th, 19 establishments sold alcohol to minors, which equates to 25%.  That compares to 31 sales to minors of the 157 establishments that were visited last June, which equates to 19.7%.

During last March’s decoy operation, 18% of the establishments visited sold alcohol to minors.

“We plan on conducting these compliance checks about every two months,” said Pam Erickson of Oregon Partnership, a non-profit alcohol and drug prevention organization that spearheaded the missions under a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services.

“We’ve found the more often we carry out the decoy missions, the better the results we get with fewer illegal sales.”

Compliance checks are a proven method to reduce sales of alcohol to underage drinkers. 

Those who sell alcohol to minors are charged with a misdemeanor and face the possibility of jail time and/or fines.  In addition, bartenders and business owners face additional penalties levied against their permits and licenses by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

For example, someone with a liquor license could face a fine of $1,650 or a ten-day suspension for a first offense.

This month’s decoy operation involved police officers from Portland, The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Gresham, and Fairview as well as 12 OLCC inspectors and 13 volunteer decoys.

Each team included two unmarked vehicles, police officers, OLCC inspectors and decoys.  The underage decoys attempted to purchase alcoholic beverages as part of the operation.

Alcohol use is associated with the leading causes of death of young people.  According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, underage drinking costs Oregonians $697 million a year in medical costs, pain and suffering and work loss costs.

Youth who start drinking before the age of fifteen are four times as likely to become addicted as adults compared to those who wait until the age of twenty one.

Oregon Partnership is urging licensed businesses to become members of the Responsible Vendor Program, which trains and educators employees about the law and techniques for avoiding alcohol sales to minors. The free program has found that those who participate are less likely to sell alcohol to minors.

About Oregon Partnership:
Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit


“Face It, Parents” Campaign Goes to Doctors’ Offices

December 20, 2007

Oregon Partnership and the Oregon Medical Association are teaming up to target parents about the dangers of underage drinking – and they should have a captive audience.

“Face It, Parents” posters have gone out to 4,500 Oregon doctors to be displayed in waiting areas and exam rooms.  Oregon Partnership reports that requests for additional materials containing steps parents can take to prevent their kids from drinking are coming in at a brisk pace.

Cards entitled “Helping Parents Reduce Youth Alcohol Use” include six tips to help keep children safe, healthy and alcohol free.

The “Face It, Parents” campaign is funded by the Oregon Department of Human Services and managed by Oregon Partnership. 

“Doctors and nurses are very influential with parents and children,” says Oregon Partnership’s Pam Erickson. “We need their help in teaching parents about the seriousness of this issue, plus the simple steps a parent can take to reduce their child’s risk of becoming a regular drinker.”

A “Face It, Parents” poster was included in STAT, the newsletter of the Oregon Medical Association.

The steps for parents come under the following headings:

* Remember, that you are the biggest influence in your children’s lives.
*Don’t think “it’s not my child.”
*Establish explicit rules and consequences.
*Youth alcohol use is not a rite of passage.
*Don’t allow youth drinking in your home.
*Be a positive role model.

The materials are free and can be ordered at Oregon Partnership by calling 503-244-5211, or toll-free at 1-800282-7035 or by emailing

“We know a lot more about the serious health issues associated with underage drinking,” says Erickson. “New research using MRIs shows that the brain undergoes enormous development from ages 12-25 and that regular alcohol use can damage this development.”

“Face it, Parents” is a an Oregon Department of Human Services prevention campaign managed by Oregon Partnership and designed to reduce underage drinking by targeting parents.  In the first 16 months of the campaign, Oregon Partnership worked with young people around the state, developing radio and TV public service announcements that received substantial airplay.

Developed with input from parent focus groups in urban and rural Oregon, the campaign features three key messages: Your child could be drinking, all children need rules against drinking, and alcohol damages young minds.

According to the Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, about a third of 8th graders have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days and about half of 11th graders.

For more about “Face It, Parents,” visit

Oregon Partnership’s Cushing Tapped For National Panel

December 17, 2007

Oregon Partnership President/CEO Judy Cushing, one of the state’s top advocates for  substance abuse prevention, has been appointed to serve on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Advisory Council.

The Council advises, consults with and makes recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and to the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

This isn’t the first time Cushing has been call on to participate on a national level.  She was a member of the National Research Council Institute of Medicine’s committee that produced the landmark report, “Reducing Underage Drinking – A Collective Responsibility” and was appointed by President George Bush to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities.

Under Cushing’s leadership, Oregon Partnership has earned a national reputation for innovative and effective prevention programs and curriculums in the field of substance abuse.

Now’s Your Chance to Help Prevent Alcohol & Drug Abuse

December 12, 2007

With the holiday season about to get into full swing, I thought this would be a good time to direct your attention to an issue I strongly support — and yes, I am asking for your help in preventing alcohol and drug abuse.

As you might know, Oregon Partnership is a local non-profit that is playing a major role in preventing drug and alcohol abuse in Oregon.   We have made great strides in initiating curriculums and prevention programs in the schools, aiding thousands of citizens in need of treatment, and answering more than 20-thousand calls annually to our crisis and suicide prevention lines. But there is still so much more work to be done.  Underage drinking is on the rise in Oregon, especially among teenage girls.

And while drug use nationally is trending downward, we’re seeing an alarming increase in our state. Here’s the good news: Prevention is the most effective and economical way to combat substance abuse. We know it works.  But like everything else, it costs money, and Oregon Partnership depends on individual contributions to keep our kids safe and drug free.

If you could find it in your heart to open your checkbook with a holiday gift, we would be grateful.

Just click on “Donate” at the OP website at

Thanks for all your support.  And Happy Holidays! 

Pete Schulberg, Communications Director

Oregon Partnership


December 11, 2007

We’ve been getting quite a few requests lately – from the media and parents – on what practicial steps parents can take to keep their kids off drugs and alcohol.

As a non-profit organization dedicated to substance abuse prevention and education, Oregon Partnership has a primer of sorts we communicate to parents through our “Face It Parents” campaign.

1) Start talking and keep going because the biggest influence on your kids is you. The more parents talk to their kids about drinking and drugs, the less chance their kids will give in to peer pressure. Your kids may seem like they’re not listening to you, but they are. So talk early and often about the effects and dangers of alcohol and drugs. Educate them and start when they’re in grade school. And if your child brings up the subject, take advantage of the opportunity and continue the conversation. It’s not always comfortable for parents to talk to their kids about such things, but the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become.

2) Don’t think “not MY child.” We have found that most parents who discover their kids are into drinking and drugs are surprised, if not shocked. Every parent should assume their child is just as susceptible as any other child. When high school kids are surveyed about problems at their school, they often put alcohol and drugs at the top of the list. The good news is that most Oregon teens don’t do alcohol and drugs.

3) Set up explicit rules. Make it a family policy of sorts – that underage drinking and illegal drug use are not OK and won’t be tolerated anytime or anywhere. Meaningful consequences will result if they break the rules. This should be articulated clearly to your kids. We at OP stress this because more often than not, when kids get involved in drugs or alcohol, no firm rules have been established by parents.

4) Drinking in the teen years is NOT a right of passage. It’s against the law for a reason – actually for a lot of reasons. Recent research shows that if your kids start drinking before the age of 15, the chances of addiction as an adult is four times greater. And because teen brains are still developing, researchers will tell you that alcohol and drugs have a definite effect on your kids’ neurological makeup. This wasn’t known even a decade ago, but because of advances in brain imaging, it is now.

5) No drinking at home. Having your teens drink at home or somebody else’s home – as long as they’re not driving – is not OK. That’s because you’ve given them permission to drink anywhere or anytime. And if you allow them to have parties at your home, the research they will drink twice as much as those kids whose parents have a no-tolerance policy. Remember, kids drink to get drunk.

6) Marijuana isn’t what it is when you were in high school. It is the illegal drug of choice for teens, but according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, the pot being sold across the U.S. is stronger and more addictive than ever. And medical emergencies involving the drug are up too.

For more information click on – Pete Schulberg, Communications Director- Oregon Partnership

A Success Story: OP’s Involvement in “Crystal Darkness”

December 4, 2007

An unprecedented event occurred throughout Oregon on the evening of October 5th, 2007, and Oregon Partnership played a major role to make it a stunning success.

“Crystal Darkness,” a half-hour documentary focusing on the dangers of methamphetamine, was aired simultaneously on 22 Oregon television stations.  The program, which included examples of the scourge of meth and the advantages of prevention, generated huge viewership and several hundred calls to an extensive phone bank coordinated by the Oregon Partnership crisis lines center.

IMPACT: The program produced by Global Studio of Reno, Nevada attracted more than a half-million viewers statewide and 367-thousand viewers in the Portland viewing area. Fifty-five percent of the Portland area homes watching TV at 7:30 p.m. were tuned into “Crystal Darkness.” Some 75 volunteers at the “Crystal Darkness” phone bank center spoke with family and friends of those impacted by methamphetamine use as well as hearing from viewers wanting more information about meth. Oregon Partnership contributed to the program’s content, stressing drug prevention and education and providing information on how the state enacted the toughest pseudoephedrine restrictions in the country, which resulted in the virtual disappearance of toxic meth labs. OP President/CEO Judy Cushing was also interviewed.

RESULTS: *More than 300 calls before, during and after the program. The great majority of the calls came into the phone bank center where volunteers were trained on listening skills, advice and referral information, and call logging. *60% of the calls were from family members and friends inquiring about treatment. Frequently, the caller expressed concern and frustration. *40% of the calls were from those who were using meth, looking for referrals to detox, treatment, or a 12-step meeting. Treatment referrals statewide were offered. *On the day the documentary aired, Oregon Partnership’s Helpline received 64% more calls than it did on the same day last year. For the week preceding the documentary, the Helpline registered a 20% increase in calls.

FOLLOW UP:  Oregon Partnership’s role in “Crystal Darkness” gave OP an opportunity to recruit additional volunteers for its crisis lines.  Brochures are being distributed to schools, community groups and places of worship.

Rob Bovett’s Response to the Portland Tribune Atticle About Meth

December 3, 2007

The Portland Tribune’s recent article about meth was excellent and reflects our current situation in Oregon (One meth problem replaces another, Nov 20).

However, I believe there are some points that need clarification. Oregonians and policymakers also need to hear about prevention, enforcement and treatment solutions.

As noted in the article, it was important to get rid of local meth labs, protecting neighborhoods, police, our environment and, most important, our children from toxic exposures.

However, the article also said that Oregon’s highly successful meth lab control laws had “unintended consequences” due to a “massive influx of meth supplied by Mexican drug cartels” and contributed to a “radical transformation” that “in some ways is making the problem even more difficult to fight.”

I believe that’s not quite accurate.

According to federal estimates, local meth labs account for only 20 percent of the meth on our streets.

We were fully aware that eliminating local meth labs would drive that demand to the drug cartels. But by eliminating local meth labs, we removed that source of meth, in addition to saving Oregon taxpayers and property owners approximately $159 million per year. That enhanced our ability to fight the problem.

We can now focus on cutting off the international supply of meth.

Meth is one of the few drugs we can effectively control on the supply side. To make the powerful meth on our streets, you need the decongestant pseudoephedrine (or its mirror image, ephedrine).

Most of the world’s supply of that key ingredient comes from nine factories in three countries. More pseudoephedrine in the hands of drug cartels means increased meth purity, lower meth price and more meth on our streets.

Less pseudoephedrine in their hands means reduced purity, higher price and less meth on our streets. It’s that simple.

That is why Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., and Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., helped us pass legislation last year to set quotas and track international pseudoephedrine shipments. We’ve made some progress, as shown by decreasing meth purity and increasing meth price.

There also is another story brewing on the national and international scene. Oregon has effectively eliminated local meth labs (by the way, nearly all of the 14 discovered this year are dumpsites or remnants).

I think we take for granted that other states have done the same. They haven’t, and are struggling to get rid of their remaining meth labs.

Until recently, their efforts focused on electronic monitoring of pseudoephedrine sales, which is unproven, complicated, burdensome and expensive.

But in Oregon we have proven that you can easily eliminate the remaining labs by simply returning pseudoephedrine to its status as a prescription drug, as it was before 1976.

Our success has not gone unnoticed. Other states and nations are watching and taking action. Mexico recently made pseudoephedrine prescription-only (although it’s different there), and is slated to ban pseudoephedrine in 2009.

Great Britain, which just began to experience local meth labs, also decided to implement the Oregon rule by 2009.

A national work group just reported to the federal government that “Oregon has demonstrated impressive effectiveness” and, if the Oregon model were adopted, there would be “no reason to develop state or national tracking systems, resulting in substantial, ongoing savings, literally in the millions of dollars.”

The Tribune’s meth article was on target and well-done. Recent progress at state, national and international levels has given us a golden opportunity to deal with prevention, enforcement and treatment.

We must expand the process of healing lives and families, and end the cycle of addiction and related crime. Oregon’s children deserve no less.

Rob Bovett is legal counsel to the Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Association and president of the Oregon Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. He is the author of Oregon’s meth lab control laws and helped write the international meth control laws passed by Congress in 2006.